By "Pintface" Pete Bogs/BogsBlog
The House of Representatives voted last week to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), which prohibits gays from serving openly in the U.S. military. The vote came after a years-long fight, and a day filled with revealing comments by many elected officials. Let’s examine some of those remarks:
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “I’m going to do everything I can to support the men and women of the military and to fight what is clearly a political agenda.”
First off, McCain is a senator, so it's not his turn to embarrass himself yet. But more important, does he seriously think a struggle for rights can simply be dismissed as “political?” It’s no more political than women fighting for voting rights or blacks fighting for equal access to schools, businesses, opportunities, etc. I would assert that McCain’s statement itself was politically motivated – the intent being to preserve the status quo and assure his base that he has normal views about this “abnormal” phenomenon.
Also from McCain: “I think it’s really going to be very harmful to the morale and effectiveness of our military.”
We’ve heard phrases like “military readiness/effectiveness,” “troop morale” and “unit cohesion” repeatedly from repeal opponents, but to my knowledge, not one cogent, detailed explanation of how the presence of openly gay troops will influence any of those things. We have been treated to plenty of theoretical alarmist scenarios, however.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): “If someone has to be overt about their sexuality, whether it’s in a bunker where they’re confined under fire, then it’s a problem.”
Look, no one’s asking to decorate bunkers with rainbow flags, but simply to be able to serve as any other American would. It seems as if Gohmert is suggesting that gay soldiers under fire will pressure straight comrades for a “quickie” in the thick of battle, perhaps using their “gay agenda” to turn some of the latter when death may be imminent?
Gohmert might as well recommend keeping an eye on your wallet when in the trenches next to a black guy, too. (Ok, ok, I know troops probably don't carry wallets into combat, but you know what I mean.)
Gohmert again: “Voting on a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell before the Pentagon’s review is completed says to the military that ‘We don’t care what you think. We’re shoving this down your throat.’”
(Possibly a poor choice of words for a homophobe. Is he a Teabagger by any chance?)
Rep: Todd Akin (R-MI): “So are we then going to then protect and condone homosexuality in the military?”
Homosexuality doesn’t need anyone’s approval to exist; it simply does, and always has. Some people apparently haven't gotten the memo.
Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA): “(Repealing DADT) is the equivalent to turning to our men and women in uniform and their families and saying, ‘Your opinion, your view (sic), do not count.’”
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ): “We’re going to say, ‘No. We don’t care what you say. You (presumably straight troops) can die for us on the battlefield, but you have no input into this process.’”
Have we even heard from active-duty military on this? And I don’t mean the chiefs of staff, but the rank and file servicemembers? Well, there is this one opinion from an Iraq War vet:
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA): “(In Iraq) my teams did not care whether a fellow soldier was straight or gay if they could fire their assault rifle or run a convoy down ambush alley and do their job so everyone would come home safely.”
I have heard unverified statements that the younger the troops are, the more accepting they are of homosexuality overall. But has a poll been taken of all current military personnel? Unless that's the case, it's hard to believe most of the statements above don't simply represent the views and values of the old farts who are making a stink about this in Congress, and not the troops or even their constituents.
The battle for DADT repeal is far from over. This month the bill goes before the Senate, where Republicants are expected to filibuster (and a few Democrats may not support repeal). We should let those lawmakers know – by phone, by email, in person and at the polls – what we think of their “leadership.”